Last Sunday we led a literary bus tour of New Haven with RJ Julia’s Booksellers and the New Haven Museum, transporting 22 literary fanatics around town to visit sites from famous (and not so famous) works of literature.
We started in Union Station, a great example of Beaux-Arts style that was designed by the same architect that did the Supreme Court building in Washington, DC. There we read a passage from JD Salinger’s Franny and Zooey about a Yale undergrad waiting for his girlfriend on the train platform. She arrives and both teenagers get an empty feeling–reflected in Salinger’s prose by the vast emptiness of the expansive main terminal.
From there we toured Yale University where Tom Perrotta, once an undergrad at the prestigious university, uses the unique architecture of the campus (tall castle walls, oaken doors, metal gates, actual moats surrounding the dormitories) to capture the frosty relationship between the townies and gownies.
A block away on the Green, our docent Chris Arnott, a theater critic and expert on local literature, read a quote from Charles Dickens who called New Haven “a fine town.”
Then it was off to Fair Haven, the center of industry in New Haven throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. We read a passage from True Confections, a mystery set in a candy factory by Katharine Weber, that described the old, worn-down manufacturing equipment still in use–an analogy for the neighborhood that was past its prime.
Randall Beach, a columnist with the New Haven Register, was also on the bus, and despite throwing me under the bus (pun intended) for mispronouncing two New Haven institutions, he wrote a great article about the tour--one that will be pinned up on the bulletin board at Placing Literature headquarters for years to come.
Please contact us if you are interested in using Placing Literature data to create a literary tour in your hometown. Or don’t. Just put the tour together and send me a link. I’d love to come along.